1954 Chevy Sedan-Employee Rides: Kevin Webel
I have been a car enthusiast my entire life, literally. My playground as a kid was the storage yard of my grandfather’s shop K.B. Kaar service on Cornhusker Hwy. This was an amazing mechanic shop here in Lincoln Nebraska and grew from a shop next to the original Speedway Motors downtown. It had a full mechanic shop and parts store in one building, complete body shop in another building, full machine shop in another and storage areas behind it all that housed many old car parts. Kaar Service was open 365 days a year and servicing anything on wheels up to big 18 wheelers with 24 hour towing as well. I remember 2 double decker buses sat in the front storage area and those were the best to play on all day long. My father Bill Webel, known as WWW (William Warren Webel) was shop foreman there and a car guy his entire life as well and passed on his love for Chevrolets to me and my big brother Greg Webel. The oldest of three kids my sister is also a car girl and has worked for Speedway Motors for over a decade. So to say it’s a family love of cars is perfect. From following my dad as a pit crew member of the 4x Speedway sprint cars. Along with years of restoring numerous Chevrolet cars and trucks, to racing NHRA Division 5 D-Stock class with him in my 69 Chevelle SS for several years.
I always remembered a couple old pictures that my father treasured and kept of his vehicles growing up. One was his orange 40 Ford pickup and the other was a maroon 49/50 Chevy Fleetline 4 door. I still have those pictures to this day hanging on my cubicle wall at work. That big bubble fender Chevy stuck in my head my entire life. Fast forward to about 15 years ago I came across this 54 Chevy Belair 4 door on Craigslist here locally and struck a deal with the owner. Midwest hospitality being what it is he even delivered it right to my driveway since it didn't run at no extra charge! I finally had my bubble fender. My plan started out as a restoration rebuilding the 235 six myself in the garage and laying underneath the car will a hand drill and 3m scuff ball stripping years of surface rust and gravel road debris from the car. Then painting it all black with what seemed like 100 rattle cans of paint. After putting the rebuilt engine back in and the undercarriage all fresh and clean that is where like many of you my project came to a halt.(4) Life gets busy but I swore to myself I would never get rid of this car and try to do all the work to it myself.
About 10 years later I started working at Speedway Motors as a Street rod/Muscle car Tech on the phones. Of course being back in my element of hot rod culture it didn't take long before the plan for the 54 was changed. The car received a 454 BBC with rectangle port aluminum heads and air gap intake running about 10.5 to 1 compression and a healthy hydraulic flat tappet camshaft backed by a TH400 with Lokar shifter.(5) The rear sports a TCI rear leaf open drive conversion and a GM 10 bolt 8.5" posi to handle that big block power. Disc brakes at all four corners helps to rain in all the ponies. I also converted it to fuel injection with a FiTech Easy Street 600 throttle body and Tanks Inc. EFI fuel tank. Of course other modifications such as a double pass cross flow radiator, Speedway 2-1/2" exhaust and chambered mufflers with electric cutouts and a line lock to assist with those smokey burnouts to name just a few. Currently I am working on redoing the interior myself. I have built new front and rear door panels so far and will tackle the sewing of new seat covers soon. (6) There is nothing more satisfying then driving a car you brought back to life and doing all the work yourself. Is it all done right or perfect? Heck no, but learning along the way is also what it is all about. (7)